Looking forward, looking back

A new DoHA document outlines what the government has already achieved in health reform, and what it plans to do in future. The Opposition has dismissed it as a self-congratulatory PR exercise.

Above: Nicola Roxon

The Minister for Health and Ageing, Nicola Roxon, has released her game plan for health reform but according to the opposition, the document is little more than a PR exercise for an ineffectual government.

Ms Roxon said the 65-page document was designed to show how important health reform objectives would be achieved, such as “increasing the sustainability of public hospitals, delivering unprecedented levels of transparency and accountability, less waste and significantly less waiting for patients”.

“It builds on the extensive progress that has already been made in the past 18 months by consumers, clinicians and governments in achieving health reform,” she said in a statement announcing the document’s release yesterday.

“To support national health reform, the Commonwealth has committed $66.6 billion in key new health spending measures since 2007. At least $19.8 billion of this will provide more beds and better care in our hospitals over the next decade.

“The Implementation Plan outlines the plans and milestones to be met in achieving health reform in: hospitals, GP and primary care, aged care, mental health, national standards and performance, workforce, prevention and eHealth.

“For example, the plan outlines in detail the different components of the $2.2 billion package of mental health reforms announced by the Commonwealth.

“Work also continues to establish the National Health Performance Authority and the Independent Hospital Pricing Authority as the Commonwealth successfully moves its health reform bills through the Parliament.”

But according to the Shadow Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Concetta Fieverranti-Wells, the document represented little more than another entry on Ms Roxon’s CV and a waste of her department’s resources.

“The community has the Productivity Commission’s report and is now engaged in a series of conversations with the Minister for Ageing, Mark Butler,” Ms Fieverranti-Wells said. “There is no indication from him or from today’s report when the government will respond to the Productivity Commission’s recommendations.

“The one-stop shops have failed to materialise but there is a new national 1800 telephone number. In mental health the progress report appears to consist of a re-run of budget announcements.”

Ms Roxon listed her government’s key health reform achievements as:

  • $1 billion delivered to the states and territories to begin funding 460 projects in 370 hospitals.
  • Establishment of the first group of Medicare Locals.
  • Establishment of the after hours GP line in most States and Territories.
  • Commencement of Local Hospital Networks in New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory, South Australia and Victoria, with remaining states and territories on track to commence by 1 July 2012.
  • Announcement of inaugural Chairs and Deputy Chairs for the National Health Performance Authority and Independent Hospital Performance Authority.
  • Commencement of a new national telephone number to link older Australians and their families to aged care through Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centres.
  • 32 of 64 GP Super Clinics now either open, providing early services or under construction in communities across Australia.
  • The first locums supported under the Nursing and Allied Health Locum Scheme in July 2011, allowing rural nurses and rural allied health workers to take leave to access professional development activities.
  • An agreement between Australian governments to include hospital infection rates on the My Hospitals website.
Tags: concetta-fierravanti-wells, doha, national-health-reform-agreement, nicola-roxon, reform,

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